The Turkish-backed Fallaq al-Sham has issued a statement ruling out any withdrawal from the Idlib Province areas intended to be covered by the deal brokered by Turkey, which was intended to prevent a Syrian offensive against them.
Fallaq al-Sham argues that they need to keep their fighters in the demilitarized zone to “repel any treason” against them. Turkey has likewise been unable to get any of the other jihadist rebels to agree to a withdrawal.
Interestingly, many media reports claimed that Fallaq al-Sham had actually started its withdrawal, though in reality they’d only moved from a few locations in the neighboring Aleppo Province. That, combined with the statement ruling out Idlib pullouts, is hardly an endorsement of the plan.
The plan intended a 15-20 km buffer between Syrian and rebel territory, and there is no sign that the rebels will be evacuating most of that. There is no publicly announced timetable for the pullout, but the plan was intended to be imposed by Turkey and Russia.
2 thoughts on “Turkey Backed Rebels Refuse to Withdraw in Syria’s Idlib”
Love the confusion so desparatly thrown up in the air by neocon swarms. And since they pretend they know stuff, it is natural that such “news” ennds up being disseminated. So, here is the correction. Turkish backed groups do not — repeat, do not — have to move out of Idlib. Quite to the contrary, they will remain the insurance policy — preventing Al-Qaeda from breaking out. This group and all others under the control of Turkey now wear uniforms and are under Turkish command. Meaning Thrkish money, food, vehicles, gas, arms and telecom. OF COURSE they will not move — why on earth would Turkey provide free space for US backed YPG infiltration, or room for HTS (Al-Qaeda) to expand. THE DEAL IS ONLY ABOUT TURNING OVER HEAVY WEAPONS, like long range artillery. Any attack on them — be that from US sponsored YPG or US/West sponsored HTS — would mean attack on Turkey and Russia. Turkey now controls Jaish Al-Islam, by far the largest Islamist group in Syria. The rest of Islamists are small. The key manuever in Idlib is the separation of all Syrian Islamists from HTS. West tried and failed to make all those transfered to Idlib become Al-Qaeda army. Turkey first peeled off Free Syrian Army freelance movements, at which point HTS started attacking them. Turkey benefited as the perception of local islamists militia changed. Now that the last ones are separated from HTS — it is hard to see HTS strategy. May be back to White Helmets? More likely they will try to attack these demilitarized zone militants — just to provoke something. But this would be a very risky business — at that point West supported HTS would be fighting Syrian Islamists, and Turkey would defend them. No wonder US is dreaming of naval blockade of Russia. All else has failed. Zealots are still trying to “win”, not having a clue as to what exactly they want. Our money being thrown away.
Russia undoubtedly expected this. Basically they decided that since the US and Turkey were making threats over the Idlib operation, they would kick the can down the road, knowing the Islamists wouldn’t honor the deal. But since the Islamists are limited to Idlib province, Russia and Syria can afford to wait them out and deal with them later, either by negotiated surrender or an attack once Turkey has been neutralized by negotiations.
Turkey has painted itself into a corner. They can either let the Islamists enter Turkey to cause trouble there, or they can turn on the Islamists themselves and deal with the inevitable blowback, or they can let the Syrians and Russians finish them off and lose control of Idlib.
By trying to incorporate the Islamists as some sort of Turkish militia and use them to control the province in a land grab, they are trying to avoid the other options. But this is inevitably going to fail and Turkey will be forced to agree to the other options. Russia and Syria can afford to wait as long as the Islamists are contained within Idlib.
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